Ninja Champion has been voted onto the List of the 366 Weirdest Movies of All Time. Comments on this initial review are closed. Please see the official Certified Weird entry to comment.
DIRECTED BY: Godfrey Ho
FEATURING: Nancy Chan, Bruce Baron, Richard Harrison
PLOT: The hard-to-unravel plot involves a raped woman seeking vengeance, her relationship with the ex-fiance Interpol agent who deserted her, diamond smugglers, identical twins, and ninjas. No champions appear.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Ninja Champion is like manna from heaven for bad movie fans, who will want to check it out posthaste. Its only weirdness, however, comes from the utter incoherence of its cut-n-paste plot, and this chopped-up chopsocky needs more than that to escape out of the kung fu jungle and crack the List of the best weird movies of all time.
COMMENTS: Godfrey Ho is a director who believes that basic continuity is a luxury only big-budget productions can afford; he’s confident that the meat-and-potatoes masses won’t care if a movie makes absolutely no sense, as long as there are frequent ninja battles in it. You must turn off your rational faculties to enjoy Ninja Champion. Otherwise, you will be rewinding the DVD every five minutes, trying to solve riddles like “where did that actress’ new blouse come from?,” “who was that guy and why he just disappear for no reason?,” and “how in the heck did she get those handcuffs off?” The film seems to be simply another cheesy, cookie-cutter kung fooey, until the first really wacked out scene appears. To prove her smuggling cred to an opium-smoking crime boss, our heroine Rose opens her blouse wide to display the diamonds she has been hiding. It’s obviously a cheap ploy to smuggle some nudity into the film—but—the actress’ breasts (and the pilfered jewels) are blurred so that nothing can be seen. (It’s not a case of censorship, as a naked breast does appear in the film later, courtesy of a body double). It looks like someone smeared a thick wad of Vaseline on the bottom half of the camera lens. We are even treated to leering, full-frame closeups of her smudged, impossible to ogle chest. This begs the question: is Godfrey Ho the first director in exploitation movie history to manage the oxymoronic feat of including a gratuitous topless scene with no nudity in it? Hot on the heels of this bungled attempt at smut comes the badly integrated ninja storyline, wherein a Caucasian ninja randomly hunts and kills other ninjas (sometimes wearing headbands helpfully describing themselves as “ninja”) while they are practicing their circus tricks. In between trying to follow the twisted, ludicrous plotline and watching for continuity errors, you can thrill to sparkling lines of dialogue:
“OK, you can help me kill them if you like, but I’m still going to kill you! It’s over, George!”
“We ninjas are getting bored. Can we start now?”
And of course, this immortal exchange:
“The wine, there must have been something in it! Oh God!”
“Not the wine, my nipples, you jerk!”
Ho “directed” over 40 movies with “Ninja” in the title. His method was to buy up cheap footage from unreleased Hong Kong movies and to intercut them with film he shot of American actors playing ninjas, then dub the older movie to incorporate a ninja subplot. The results were then dumped into U.S. video stores in an attempt to cash in on the minor 1980s craze for ninja movies. Without having seen any of his other efforts, I’m going to declare Ho’s Ninja Champion his weirdest, because the diamond smuggling/rape revenge/identical twin plot is so bizarre and confusing on its own that I doubt he could have found a more incompetent film to use as the base movie.
Although Ninja Champion is sold separately or packaged with various other kung fu, the best deal is Mill Creek’s “Martial Arts 50 Movie Pack,” which also contains the borderline weird Kung Fu Arts and 48 other silly butt-kickers.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY: